Tag Archives: vodou

Artist Profiles: Boukman Eksperyans

Boukman Eksperyans

The revolutionary music of Boukman Eksperyans is a unique blend of roots, Vodou jazz, Zairian soukous and reggae, built on a foundation of traditional African rhythms and Caribbean melodies.

The band also promotes a spiritual message of freedom, unity, and faith, taking its name from a Haitian revolutionary named Boukman Dutty, a slave and Vodou priest who helped unify the Haitian slaves in a revolution against the French colonists in 1791.

Boukman’s first CD, Voudou Adjae, introduced traditional Vodou to a worldwide audiencetheir second, Kalfou Danjere (Dangerous Crossroads), was a direct response to the military overthrow of then Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The group’s third release, Liberte (Pran pou Pran’l!) was recorded while the group was in exile in Kingston, Jamaica.

On July 29th, 2002, lead singers Theodore “Lolo” Beaubrun, Jr. and his wife, Mimerose “Manze” Pierre Beaubrun of Boukman Eksperyans were named official United Nations Ambassadors for Peace and Goodwill by the World Association of Former United Nations Interns and Fellows (WAFUNIF).

This distinguished title of United Nations Goodwill Ambassador was bestowed on Lolo and Manze in recognition of their tireless efforts to promote Love, Peace, Respect and Unity through their music, which has transcended all cultural barriers. They were also been asked to spearhead the creation of WAFUNIF’s Culture of Peace Learning Center in Haiti, which will be a school designed to introduce modern technology to poor countries around the world.

The school will provide poor, underprivileged children with computers, books, music and dance programs, and other digitally enhanced approaches to learning. The schools are created as part of a mandate for a Culture of Peace established in the UN General Assembly resolution 53/25 on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World 2001-2010.

While the members of Boukman Eksperyans survived the devastating Earthquake to their homeland of Haiti, each has been personally affected as all Haitians have been.


* Voudou Adjae (Mango 16253 9899, 1991)
* Kalfou Danjere/Dangerous Crossroads (Mango 162-539 927, 1992)
* Libète (Pran Pou Pran’l!)/Freedom (Let’s Take It!) (Mango 162-539 946, 1995)
* Revolution (Lightyear, 1998)
* Live at Red Rocks (Lightyear, 2000)
* Kanaval Rasin – Vodou Adja (Tropic / Converge, 2000)
* La Révolte Des Zombies (2009)

Web site



Length & Time: Chouk Bwa Libete

I will be writing a column on Length & Time in music, in each presenting an album and its strategies that pertain to addressing Length & Time. 

Most bands who claim to be playing Vodou music are not really: there isn’t enough time to play music how it is required in a Vodou ceremony. The point of drumming, singing, etc, in a Vodou ceremony is for there to be a possession and or a communication with Vodou spirits.

There is no way that such a phenomenon can be formatted for radio. One would have to wait for the spirit to possess someone in a ceremony or record a believer’s singing in private to a spirit. In Haiti, a subgenre of Vodou music, Rasin, was created to be Vodou music that is meant for any sort of consumption, whether secular or sacred but tailored for radio use and for contemporary performance.

Some bands, however, aim to stay true to music how it is used in Vodou religion and they play Vodou as such, Rasin Seche, or whatever they would like to call it. Azor is perhaps the most notable Haitian musician of Vodou as such, or Rasin Seche. Like in a Vodou ceremony, he sang his songs as a Simidor, surrounded by Hounsi and Reines Chantrelles. His songs, because of this, were often up to 10 minutes long. Chouk Bwa Libete’s songs on Se Nou Ki La are midway between this raw Rasin Seche and the more commercial Rasin for both secular and non secular consumption. We hear Chouk Bwa Libete sing praises to themselves on this album as no Vodou spirit expects from an officiant.

It is, in the end, an album that makes use of length to express the art of the musicians on this album and not to be a Vodou album. The lengthiest song “Je M La” is 7:53, nowhere near the amount of time it takes on average to serve a Vodou spirit. It has no choice but to: the demand for Vodou music, ceremonial music, is very small. Instead, this album, like many other albums like it, plays Vodou rhythms and Vodou lyrics as art.

Buy Se Nou Ki La


An Afro-Roots Experiment That Worked

Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra (Glitterbeat, 2016)

Nigerian Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen recorded a set of jams rooted in Afro-rooted rhythms from Africa and Haiti that appear on the self-titled AHEO Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra.

The idea for this project was spearheaded by Corinne Micaelli, the director of the French Institute in Haiti. She brought Tony Allen, an Afrobeat pioneer and trendsetter to perform in Haiti with local musicians. Erol Josué, a singer, dancer, voodoo priest, and director of the Haitian National Bureau of Ethnology, helped to recruit local percussionists and singers. They chose musician’s from Haiti’s leading bands, including Racine Mapou de Azor, RAM, Erol’s own band, the Yizra’El Band and Lakou Mizik, the group of Sanba Zao, one of Haiti’s top percussionists and traditional singers.

The musicians were given 5 days to compose and rehearse the musical pieces that they’d play in the main square of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and broadcast live throughout the country.

The band featured 10 leading Haitian percussionists, Tony Allen, Mark Mulholland on guitar, Olaf Hund on keyboards, and Jean-Philippe Dary on bass.

Due to technical problems the concert was not recorded but Mark Mulholland had the multi-track rehearsal tapes and that’s where the material on this album came from. The vocals by Erol Josué, Sanba Zao, and the other singers were re-recorded and the pieces were mixed. The final product is a captivating set of Afrobeat rhythms from Nigeria and traditional and modern beats and chants from Haiti interlaced with jazz and electronica.

The complete album lineup includes Tony Allen on drums; Jean-Philippe Dary on bass and keyboards; Olaf Hund on keyboards and electronics; Mark Mulholland on guitar and organ; Sanba Zao, Wolele, Zikiki, Beauvois Anilus, Edmond Gera and members of Rasin Mapou de Azor & RAM on percussion; Erol Josué, Sanba Zao, Marc-Harold Pierre, Zikiki and Mirla Samuel Pierre on lead vocals; Zikiki, Marc-Harold Pierre, Wolele and Mirla Samuel Pierre on backing vocals.


Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra is an instinctive, seductive and finely crafted celebration of African and Haitian music.

Buy Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra in the Americas

Buy Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra in Europe


Haitian Roots Band Lakou Mizik Begins North American Tour

Lakou Mizik
Lakou Mizik

One of the finest Haitian roots music bands, Lakou Mizik, is currently in North America on tour. The band is promoting its new album Wa Di Yo (Cumbancha Discovery, 2016).

Tour Dates

June 1 Florence Gould Hall: Haiti Optimiste, NYC

June 4 PVD Fest, Providence, RI

June 7 World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA

June 9 The Falcon, Marlboro, NY

June 11 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, Burlington, VT

June 16 at Celebrate Brooklyn with Baaba Maal

June 18 at Hygienic Art Park in New London, CT

June 30 Feast & Field Festival, Barnard, VT

July 8 Harbourfront Centre: Future Routes, Toronto, Canada

July 13 Ohio City Stages Summer Series, Cleveland, OH

July 14 Nectar Lounge, Seattle, WA

July 15 Vancouver Folk Festival, Vancouver, Canada

Buy Wa Di Yo in North America

Buy Wa Di Yo in Europe


Carole Demesmin

She’s now occasionally an old lady singer and a powerful Vodou priestess, or a manbo. She now mostly sits and only sometimes comments instead of being the cultural doer that she once was. She tells her memories. Before it, she was a socially and politically conscious young woman in bright colors on a vinyl cover. She sang Vodou culture songs that some in Haiti, who preferred to mimic European culture, shunned. She also sang songs about the tribulations of the country’s poor. She was a singer seen on television and heard on the radio who time and time again fed Haitian life with her a love of selfhood. As a token of their gratitude, Haitians have declared her a legend.

Carole Demesmin was at first a middle class Haitian girl from Leogane who had moved to the United States who knew very little if nothing at all about Vodou. Leogane is a city known for its Rara bands; pre-columbian culture marching bands heavily steeped in Vodou that still exist today. Regardless, she was not aware of it. She learned of Vodou in the United States, as many Haitians do. Inspired, she went on to release the majestic album Carole Maroule in 1979.

Carole Demesmin - Carole Maroule
Carole Demesmin – Carole Maroule

She moved back to Haiti in the early 1980’s and became one of the great singers of her people’s struggle, a people who would overthrow a dictator in 1986, a people who would be massacred by its own army in the early 1990’s and who would know a bittersweet version of democracy that would send it into a disastrous tailspin that still affects Haiti today. As things turned sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst, she became a priestess of Vodou religion and released the albums Min Rara, Lawouze, and Kongayiti-Afrika, all to signify that we Haitians are Africans in the New World who want respect.

Her commitment to Vodou was as correct as it is beautifully expressed. No human being should be obliged to believe in a specific God or in one God. We human beings have not been successful at upholding that as a human right. Christian institutions, descendants of Roman Christianity and always close to political and social power, has done a lot of damage to one’s ability to practice another religion with dignity. It forced the polytheist slaves of the Western Hemisphere into an odd form of secrecy; they could not practice their faith in public and so their descendants have taken on similar postures. Her commitment did wonders for Haitian culture and for Haitian song. It imposed itself in public, gladly, without remorse.


Hip-Shaking Haitian Roots Music

Lakou Mizik – Wa Di Yo (Cumbancha Discovery, 2016)

Wa Di Yo is the debut album from a fabulous multi-generational Haitian band called Lakou Mizik. This new act incorporates Haitian roots music to produce a fresh, irresistible sound.

Lakou Mizik use danceable vodou rhythms, call and response vocals, jazz lines, accordion melodies and the insistent energy of the roaring rara horns normally used during carnival season.

The band lineup on Wa Di Yo includes Steeve Valcourt on guitars and vocals; Jonas Attis on vocals; Louis Lesly Marcelin (aka Sanba Zao) on tambour (barrel drum), percussion and vocals; Nadine Remy on vocals; Lamarre Junior on bass and bass drum; Woulele Marcelin on tambour and percussion; Peterson “Ti Piti” Joseph on rara and percussion; James Carrier on rara and percussion; and Belony Beniste on accordion. Canadian musician and producer Chris Velan appears on guitar and banjo.

Wa Di Yo presents the joyous hip-shaking roots sound of Lakou Mizik, the finest group to have come out of Haiti in recent years.

Buy Wa Di Yo in North America

Buy Wa Di Yo in Europe